By Gill Stewart at
Its so good to be back and the new format worked!
That was the verdict of our Tutor team this week as they completed the first Instructor training course since lockdown. Our Diploma in Nordic and Fitness walking is the key to getting our programmes delivered to as many people as possible, so it was devastating to have to cancel our spring courses leaving 30 potential new Instructors sitting at home waiting for us to re start. We knew that there would be a demand for Nordic Walking and WALX after lockdown so wanted to make sure they were ready to fill the gaps around the UK as soon as possible too.
As, like most fitness companies, we were already producing a number of online sessions (see our virtual portal HERE) to encourage our walkers to stay active at home, we decided to explore the possibility of turning a comprehensive 3 day practical course into a blended learning experience that would mean less travel and overnight stays.
So, home offices became training rooms and garden lawns worn thin as they became demo zones and practice areas. Now we are confident that new Instructors can learn all they need to know AND still achieve our high standards via a series of interactive virtual tutor led sessions, on line lessons that can be done in their own time and only one socially distanced practical training day (See below)OK – the set up was like an exam hall and of course, masks were required indoors but it did not restrict learning and is of course, the new normal!
This new modular format also helps us train WALK LEADERS to help our current groups expand and they can join some of the route planning and safety lessons alongside the Instructors to help everybody work together to create outstanding Walks. AS we include the training of your first leader in our Diploma, this also means new groups can get going quickly and without excessive costs too.
Martin Christie says ” We know people are not keen to travel and stay overnight at the moment and we don’t really want to encourage it either. By reducing the practical element to one day we can have more dates around the UK in more locations, keep groups small and help our learners keep down the travel and costs”
But would it spoil the experience?
“We carefully broke down all elements of our usually very comprehensive 3 day learning experience and added more on line lessons to the existing Anatomy, Physiology and Principles of Fitness modules. We then worked out which elements could work as interactive on line modules via ZOOM where the Tutors could demonstrate and learners could practice, ask questions and be assessed where required” Martin adds
By adding a host of days and times, including evenings we have not only managed to clear a lot of the back log but are helping plenty of new learners come through and gain their skills in their own time. The format means people can select bitesize chunks to study when they are ready and the on line elements do not have to be completed prior to attending the face to face day. The Tutors are there to help them learn all they need to know at their own pace…literally. “One issue with the old 3 day format was that people were exhausted at the end of it” say Martin “Whilst now, the practical day is pretty tiring because we pack so much in but at least we all get to rest the next day!”
The Diploma now includes our POWER of the POLES induction method a range of pole walking techniques and how to match get the right poles, range of movement and level of intensity for every person. Our methods are designed to inspire, include and help people progress so we adapt them continually in order to help as many people as possible master the benefits of walking well…with or without poles.
Now the practical day is an inspirational day made up of classroom learning and group practice which also ensures our Tutors get to interact and assess new Instructors with regards their teaching skills, group management, warm ups, techniques and leadership. All these elements are worked on throughout the Diploma and practice is also required.
We have now held two courses at our HQ in Dorset and feel ready to roll this format out across the UK with our regional learning centres – dates coming soon (lets hope they have views like these as well!
So what did the learners say about the new format?
Malcolm a former walk Leader who upgraded to be an Instructor in order to help his group continue to grow told us……...
It was nice to meet and have a chat with the Team and have a look around the store after 5 years with Mercian Nordic Walking and NWUK.
I arrived back home safely at around 9pm after a most educative and enjoyable face to face training day with Martin. I can honestly say that I think the format and content of the Power of the Poles instructor training course has been absolutely first class. I have been an approved Walk Leader since February 2017 but I have still learnt a lot from the course so far. Martin is a very experienced and professional teacher who has a marvellous way of transferring the knowledge required to delegates.
I have also completed all of the on line Zoom sessions and assignments available on the learning dashboard to date. I have only to complete the remaining sessions as they are posted on the learning dashboard and then hopefully I will be a qualified Brand Ambassador for NWUK working alongside Ian Northcott
I can honestly say that I still get as much enjoyment now from leading walks as I did when I lead my first walk. I am looking forward to being able to instruct new clients and also to continue to help existing clients to improve their technique and fitness levels to get the enjoyment from Nordic Walking that both Janet and I have achieved in the past 5 years.
Lizzie Constantine said
Thank you so much for today’s course I thoroughly enjoyed myself and appreciate all your efforts and time in teaching us all. Truly great day!
Martin finished by saying “We won’t stop here – we will keep improving both the content and learning experience because we are driven by the need to provide safe, effective sessions to the Public and to do that we need to develop exceptional Instructors.”
Jen Hansford told us
Thank you so much for all your support and that of Emma, Becky, Eve, Gill & Lisa. You have all made setting up this new strand to my business so much easier during these crazy times. Having been self employed for 17 years it has been such a treat to have the back up NWUK and has confirmed that I have made the right choice.
We still need Instructors to join our network and have lots of options – to view our unique Diploma in more detail click HERE
Oh! and the good news is we have discounted it to help those seeking a new career after lockdown too – Call 0333 1234 540 if you would like to know more about training, walk leading or even our NEW WALX franchise.